by Kortni Alston, MBA
PhD student, University of Florida
Graduate Teaching Assistant
The desks are narrowly placed though out the classroom, students are starting to arrive, and the teacher is waiting for the audio-visual equipment to warm up. It sounds like a typical day in any classroom across the country, but there is one factor that differentiates some of the classrooms: the best teachers stand out simply with classroom performance or delivery. How a teacher performs in the classroom can enable student engagement and ignite passion in a fairly listless subject matter. Extraordinary teachers understand the value of bringing a lesson to life and using themselves as a conduit to share knowledge and experiences.
Ron Clark has proven that you don’t have to be a college professor to inspire educators. Clark is the co-founder of the Ron Clark Academy (RCA), the non-profit middle school in Atlanta, Georgia that serves as a training ground for teachers. Clark and Kim Bearden, the co-founder and executive director of RCA are educating teachers from around the world more than 13,000 from all levels of education make the pilgrimage to their training facility to learn best practices from Clark, Bearden, and their team. Their approach exemplifies passion in the classroom that values student engagement. To see the school in action visit:
College professor Dr. Michael Eric Dyson is proving that you can bring popular culture into the classroom and create an intellectual conversation about its value to society. As a professor at Georgetown University’s Department of Sociology, Dyson has created a Sociology of Hip Hop class that concentrates on the life of hip-hop artist JayZ. Dyson believes in helping students think critically using a musical genre they find of value. To see his approach in the classroom visit:
Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar is an author and lecturer, who used to teach at Harvard University. His class on “Positive Psychology” at Harvard was one of the largest and most popular courses at the University. Ben-Shahar’s course connected with students and taught them life skills that foster the value of positive psychology. To see his teaching style visit:
All of these educators are inspiring students and teachers from around the world. Each has their own unique style that resonates with people in and out of the classroom. If you are an educator embarking on your journey you might want to ask yourself, “What can I do to inspire the next generation of educators?” If you continue to ask and pose that question to yourself in every class you teach and every lesson you prepare, you will achieve excellence in teaching like Clark, Bearden, Dyson, and Ben-Shahar.
Kortni Alston is a student in Mass Communication Teaching (MMC 6930).